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May 2015


An AgrAbility Awareness dinner was held April 4th, as a project in marketing for two University of Nebraska - Kearney students. The students secured funding for the steak dinner from Century 21 Realty and Farm Credit Services, and worked with community volunteers for set-up and meal preparation. Employees, friends and family members of those two organizations, as well as the general public, made up the 58 attendees. Sharry Nielsen, Nebraska Extension, worked with the students to develop a presentation and displays about AgrAbility. She and Rod Peterson, rural rehabilitation specialist, spoke about the project and staffed one display about AgrAbility and one about ergonomic tools. Vendor Mid-Plains Equipment brought a hydra-bed pick-up and display, and Peer Network member Steve Quandt brought his pick-up lift for display. Great conversation about the project and a great meal were highlights of the event.

"Rehabilitating Farmers and Ranchers with Disabilities" was presented April 23rd in Kearney for health care professionals, with eight attendees and four networkers. The lead instructor was Dr. Christine Hutchinson, PT. Presenters were VR Counselor Myron Kouba; Rod Peterson and Emily Freudenburg, Rural Rehabilitation Specialists; Sharry Nielsen, Nebraska Extension; and Shauna Dahlgren, Easter Seals Nebraska (ESN) Work Incentive Specialist. Nancy Frecks, Nebraska Extension, handled registration and other workshop details. Displays on the Nebraska project, Agriculture and Arthritis, and Ergonomic Tools were set up by staff, and a display about C-PAP was set up by a local vendor. Site visits to see AT in action were to Mid-Plains Equipment to see cattle handling equipment and to Peer Network member Kyle Jensen to see AT used for cropping.

Emily Freudenburg, Rural Rehab Specialist, attended the April 30th Easter Seals Nebraska "Celebration of Dreams: A Tribute to the Stars and Stripes", for ESN staff and veterans. Featured speaker Colonel David W. Sutherland talked about inclusion and how to approach returning veterans looking for potential job opportunities. Col. Sutherland notes that farming in Nebraska is a way of life, and to many, it is a therapeutic life choice. He talked about how farming may help to relieve symptoms of PTSD and help vets create food for America. As guests, Emily took her grandfather, who served in the Korean War, and a friend who is currently serving.

Submitted by Sharry Nielsen